HOW TO BE AN EF­FEC­TIVE FE­MALE EN­TRE­PRE­NEUR

The National - News - - BUSINESS | LIFE - MANAR AL HINAI Manar Al Hinai is an award-win­ning Emi­rati writer who man­ages her brand­ing and mar­ket­ing con­sul­tancy in Abu Dhabi. Twit­ter: @ma­n­ar_al­hi­nai

Icon­stantly read about how chal­leng­ing it is for women to be­come en­trepreneurs. I con­sider my­self lucky to not have faced ma­jor chal­lenges in man­ag­ing my business, and how blessed I am to be from a coun­try that sup­ports women and en­trepreneur­ship.

How­ever, when I browse my favourite blogs and news web­sites, it is not un­com­mon to read about un­equal pay, sex­ual ha­rass­ment and un­paid ma­ter­nity leave is­sues that many women around the world face.

One of the chal­lenges that women en­trepreneurs also face is how they feel that they have to ne­go­ti­ate or val­i­date the worth of their ser­vices harder; this is a topic that I have come across in many women in business blogs.

An ac­quain­tance of mine runs an events man­age­ment business in Abu Dhabi, and of­ten ends up pro­vid­ing a ser­vice at a lower than in­tended price. She does not feel con­fi­dent enough to set the price higher, or she would feel shy to ne­go­ti­ate pric­ing es­pe­cially when ne­go­ti­at­ing with men.

I can imag­ine how such in­ci­dents, and oth­ers such as sex­ual ha­rass­ment and deal­ing with ob­nox­ious ven­dors, could make women en­trepreneurs want to give up and stick to the se­cu­rity of a 9 to 5 job. But this should not stop you.

Here is what I have learned through my many en­coun­ters with women en­trepreneurs from around the world about fight­ing through the chal­lenges we women face in business. I hope that you will find some of them use­ful.

Don’t let un­fa­mil­iar­ity de­ter you

The beauty of be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur is that you will of­ten sail through un­charted wa­ters. As my sis­ter and I were about to launch a new business, we were warned about how many of the business own­ers in our field were men and that may present a chal­lenge as we com­pete with them. But it only made us want to do it even more.

We were con­fi­dent that what we were go­ing to launch was the fu­ture, so we buck­led up and worked harder on set­ting it up. Do not wait for change to hap­pen, or that the right en­vi­ron­ment would some­how be cre­ated so that you could cre­ate your business. Evolve, or you will never grow.

Know your ser­vices’ worth

I can­not re­call the num­ber of times my fe­male business friends would call to dis­cuss a pro­posal of their ser­vices fee. A com­mon ques­tion they al­ways raise is: “You don’t think it’s too much, do you? I just don’t want to turn them away!” When it comes to money, women be­come ex­tra sen­si­tive, and this is some­thing that is not cul­ture-tied. They just think about it once or twice, be­fore send­ing the pro­posal out to their prospect clients.

It is true that your clients would pay amount X, which some­times may be a large amount, but they are also pay­ing it for an ex­change of a ser­vice, which of­ten in­cludes long work­ing hours, thought and ded­i­ca­tion, so don’t feel bad about it.

But also be­yond money, know your ser­vices’ worth. Don’t ac­cept any of­fer just to make ends meet. Be true to what you are pas­sion­ate about, and also value your time. Set work­ing hours, and also ded­i­cated break times and hol­i­days. My week­ends are sa­cred, and I do not work af­ter cer­tain hours or dur­ing spe­cial hol­i­days no mat­ter what. You owe that to your­self. Take a break to re­lax and un­wind

Lead by ex­am­ple and sup­port each other

What I tend to hear from many other women en­trepreneurs is how women in business do not sup­port each other. Though my men­tors have been men, I do sup­port as­pir­ing fe­male en­trepreneurs. I in­tro­duce them to business ac­quain­tances, pro­vide them with a work ex­pe­ri­ence, or sim­ply help pol­ish their work CVs. But the most im­por­tant thing that I be­lieve women en­trepreneurs need is faith in what they want to of­fer the world, and I have per­son­ally seen how one per­son’s faith in an en­tre­pre­neur can do won­ders, and help launch amaz­ing busi­nesses that make our world bet­ter.

Own be­ing a woman

The fi­nal ad­vice I will leave you with is to own be­ing a woman, be­cause at the end of the day if you are truly pas­sion­ate about what you do, if you are de­ter­mined to make a dif­fer­ence, if you will ded­i­cate your time and ef­fort to en­sure that your vi­sion sees the light, then it does not mat­ter if you are a man or a woman. The great thing about this is that both pas­sion and suc­cess are gen­der neu­tral, so you might as well just go for it.

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